Architecture studio Eldridge London has designed House in Coombe Park, a modern residence in South West London that features dramatic curved walls and metallic details. The house is located in a secluded enclave of inter-war suburban bungalows, and takes a markedly contrasting approach to the redevelopment of the site from the pastiche neoclassical neighbors being built nearby.
The client runs a business which creates temporary structures and spaces for sporting events, and has long had an interest in modernism and contemporary design. The opportunity to build his own house offered the potential to ally his enthusiasm for contemporary architecture with a structure of greater permanence and resonance.
The project embraces the practice’s approach to finding design inspiration in the specifics of a context to deliver a unique and memorable building rather than seeing contextual design as something which involves replication or imitation. Inspired by the sloping hillside and mature oak tree, the House in Coombe Park is a distinctive composition accessed through an open street-level allowing the landscape to envelop the building, and maintaining views through to the garden.
The lower garden level which houses the main living spaces is accessed via a suspended staircase in oak and brass which descends from the street level through a glazed double-height entrance rotunda. A secondary stair spirals up within the central concrete core to allow occupants to move between the levels in privacy.
Sweeping south-facing glazed elevation frames the garden and the existing oak tree with open plan living accommodation distributed along its length. This curve is then repeated in a 120-degree rotational symmetry to create a ‘trefoil’ form in plan. The structure of the building is exposed internally as fair-faced concrete, with a two-storey cylindrical stair core supporting the 1st-floor bedroom level. Finely crafted joinery and furniture are allied to high-quality materials to offer a refined, tactile interior.
Large curved roof lights in the street level landscape allow generous daylighting into a gym and guest bedroom at the rear of the house, whilst service spaces are arranged radially across the rear retaining wall. The master suite occupies the entire first floor, hovering amongst the tree canopies with a full-height glazed facade providing views over the gardens below.
Natural materials predominate throughout, with oak flooring, stairs and furniture providing a warm complement to the finely finished exposed concrete, and providing a material link to the focal oak tree. Polished brass and stainless steel elements, internal white marble, and external grey limestone paving add a further level of refinement.
The rigorous planning of the house has been carried through into the detailed design, with the ‘trefoil’ shape of the building repeating through the scheme at different scales as a subtle architectural motif: from the shaped vertical aluminum cladding members on the first floor facades, to pull handles on doors.
The external landscaping scheme has also been designed by Eldridge London following the same geometries as the house to ensure a holistic composition with the existing oak tree again becoming the focal element. Hornbeam trees to the side and front boundaries screen the site from the street, whilst the garden lawn continues across the street level entrance roof. A stainless steel path set into the lawn merges into the street level roof edge coping which together define the outline of the trefoil plan form of the spaces below. A series of vertical cantilever balusters project from these curving alignments forming a shifting moiré- fringe effect as one approaches the building.
A cantilevered external stone stair on one side of the building provides external access between the two garden levels, whilst a copse of silver birch trees adds texture and boundary screening to the other side. The landscaping also includes a natural swimming pond, utilizing marginal aquatic planting to provide natural filtration and cleansing of the water.